September 29, 2014
We all love and appreciate high quality voiceovers in our RPGs and graphic adventures. Gone are the days of "You were almost a Jill sandwich," and in its place are voiceovers from veteran voice actors such as Yuri Lowenthal or Jennifer Hale. With interactive entertainment becoming more cinematic, voiceovers have become more of a necessity than a nice added bonus. Even indie games sport professional quality voiceovers nowadays and provide a nice springboard to showcase up-and-coming talent. One of these rising stars is Jill Melancon, who gave a lively performance as Holiday, the lead character in Giant Spacekat's acclaimed debut, Revolution 60. We had a chance to speak with Ms. Melancon about her experiences as a voiceover artist, and here is what she had to say.
RPGFan: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. What got you into voiceover work in the first place?
Jill: I worked at my college radio station, and that led to a job at a large commercial radio station in Atlanta. As part of your job, you have to record commercials all the time... that's where it started. But also, when I was in second grade, a teacher asked me to record some short stories for the class because she liked my voice, LOL.
RPGFan: Who are some of your voiceover and acting influences?
Jill: VO: all of the actors from the Simpsons! Especially Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer. They have such incredible range! Acting: all the badass women... especially Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies and Robin Wright in House of Cards.
RPGFan: I enjoyed your spirited performance as Holiday, the protagonist in Revolution 60. How did you prepare for that role?
Jill: I like that word "spirited," LOL. I didn't know a lot of the story when we started... there wasn't a full script yet. When I auditioned, there weren't even lines to read — they gave me a description of each of the characters and told me to come up with some lines they might say. Holiday was described as having the attitude of Jane Shepard in Mass Effect, so that was where I started. I was a high school teacher for several years, and pulled on that "teacher" voice often! And I speak fluent sarcasm, so that part wasn't hard. :-)
RPGFan: When recording Holiday, did you just have a script to read or were you given storyboards and character art to view as well for inspiration?
Jill: As I mentioned, when we started, I didn't have a full script. I would get the lines for a specific scene, and we would record that. I had been sent a visual image of Holiday before we recorded anything, so I knew what she looked like as a starting point. Occasionally, the developers would send me a finished scene to look at, which was really cool (and helpful for future sessions).
RPGFan: For Revolution 60, did you and the other actresses record together in one location or did everyone record their lines separately? What were the advantages and disadvantages of how you did it?
Jill: As far as I know, everyone recorded in their home studios like I did. Giant SpaceKat is in the Boston area, and I'm down in Atlanta. The designers would schedule a Skype session with me, and I would record a few takes of each line and email them in separate files... they would then listen, evaluate, and either suggest changes, or we'd move on to the next line. We recorded in sections, spread out over a couple of years.
Advantages: scheduling was easier — they only had to deal with one actress' schedule at a time, instead of trying to find a time when all of us were free.
Disadvantages: you have no one to play off of. Occasionally, I'd have a sound file of the other person (if they had already recorded that scene) for a particularly dramatic scene to give me some idea of the level they were playing at so I could match it.
The hardest part for me was recording fight sounds — grunts, moans, screams — completely out of context!
RPGFan: How did it feel to have your voice in a game alongside a prominent anime voice actress like Amanda Winn Lee? Were there any valuable lessons you learned from her?
Jill: I can't really answer that question — I never worked directly
with Amanda, since we were in different places, and I haven't seen her scenes.
RPGFan: Revolution 60 has been getting a lot of positive press from fans and critics alike. It's no secret that I enjoyed it a lot. Have you had a chance to play it yet?
Jill: So glad to hear you enjoyed the game! Here's the irony... I don't own any Apple products and can't play my own game, LOL!
RPGFan: What are some other voiceover projects you've been involved in, gaming or otherwise? Are there any in particular that stand out?
Jill: Nothing as cool as this. I've done some commercials, some eLearning work (lots of medical terminology!), and some audiobooks. This was my first video game.
RPGFan: What are some of your future aspirations? Personally, I'd love to hear you voice more kickass heroines in established video game series like Square Enix's Final Fantasy or Bandai Namco's Tales.
Jill: Of course I'd love to do more video games — I have my fingers crossed for a sequel to Revolution 60. And my dream job would be a recurring character on a show like The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, or Archer.
RPGFan: Do you have any advice for aspiring voiceover artists you'd like to share?
Jill: Be prepared to spend a lot of money (on training, on equipment, etc. — you have to invest in this just like you would in any other career), and a lot of time (we're talking years) before you ever
make any money. A very
small percentage of people can do the work full time (I don't, for example). Also, make sure you have a thick skin — you are gonna get rejected way
more than you are gonna get hired. :-)
RPGFan: Are there any last words you'd like to share with our readers?
Jill: I really hope everyone is enjoying the game — it was one of the most fun things I've ever done in my life, and I hope that comes across!
RPGFan would like to thank Jill Melancon for taking the time to speak with us. If you would like to hear more of her work and/or book her for a project, visit her site at http://www.nocnalemcreative.com